Posts Tagged: Home

Sep 14

My Best

This past weekend was Labor Day weekend and instead of spending it at the beach with friends, or having a pool party or a barbecue (with friends), we spent it moping around at home because Lily and I were sick (with Anna only sightly under the weather). And, because I spent a lot of time in bed with my iPad, I (naturally) spent a lot of time browsing Pinterest, as one does. And now I have a million ideas and also a million bad and terrible thoughts at the ways in which I am failing at life because my life is not Pinterest-perfect. It’s not perfect in any sense.

So I am going to remind myself today, as I find myself needing to do so often, that I am doing my best. And that my best is good enough. My best is good enough!

Life isn’t a race. There isn’t a prize at the end. If you have more stuff at the end, you still die…without your stuff.


I won’t give up on my dreams of a perfectly organized bathroom or crafting with leftover egg carts, but I will continue to believe, in my heart, that piles of stuff in the guest room does not mean that I am a bad person. It means I am a busy person who is choosing to orient myself towards other things right now, at this time in my life. I am wiping noses and doing endless loads of laundry and picking up dog poop. I am reading bedtime stories and wiping marker marks off of tables and kissing boo-boos. These are the important things right now. Not labeled baskets.

Love to all the busy parents out there. We’re in it together. XO


Sep 12


My friend Adrea asked me how how I’ve been holding up lately. Answer: so much better than the Perfect Storm Week, the week which began with Adam leaving on his first post-Lily’s birth business trip, quickly snowballed into terrible colds for Lily and I, and ended with many tears and gnashing of teeth and feelings of being outnumbered and the impossibility of life.

This week? It’s been hard. But it has been better.

Now, I don’t say this lightly or blithely, but I think that some of the reason that I am able to hang in there like this, and only cry a little bit every once in a while, instead of every day, all day, is because of Lilith’s personality. What, you may ask, are you talking about, you crazy woman. Well, god or the universe or whatever knew that I just couldn’t handle a (dare I say “Another”???) high-needs child and Lily is just so….chill. So smiley and laid back and can I just whisper a hallelujah because this child actually sleeps. Sleeps, sleeps. For multiple hours in a row. I don’t want to compare my two kids–that can only lead to trouble–but suffice it to say that I didn’t experience this the first time around. I LOVE LOVE LOVE my Anna girl, I hope that this blog has made that clear over the years, but my Bird has kicked my ass all over the place, so many times. She is wonderful and intelligent and funny and brilliant and sassy as hell and YES challenging. Lily is just different. And I love them both, I love them for who they are but THANK goodness I got a sleeping baby this time around. This could all change. I understand and acknowledge that, but, for the time being at least, I’m enjoying the hell out of this.

THis isn’t to say that I’m getting a full and entire night’s sleep every night. Oh no no no no. Just that I get a couple of good stretches of sleep. She is a baby, after all. Babies eat in the middle of the night. Sometimes they poop and they want to be changed. Sometimes they just want to make sure that someone, anyone but hopefully Mama, is still around to love them. I’m there for her in her needs. I have fragmented sleep and I feel tired during the day, but just a regular tired, not (usually) a oh-my-goodness-I’m-so-tired-I’m-hallucinating kind of a tired. Just your good old fashioned bone-weary Mama tired. The kind of tired that helps me fall asleep easily at night, not the kind of tired that makes me fall asleep when I’m driving.

Anna is sweet and helpful lately, when she isn’t busy threatening to run away from home. This happens multiple times a week, usually. I’ve taken to treating these threats in a concerned but not overly panicky way. As in, “oh, gee, honey, I’ll really miss you. I hope you change your mind and decide to stay here! This family just wouldn’t be the same without you.” Note: she has always, to this day, decided to stay home after all, after much deliberation and brief trips to the playhouse with backpacks filled with goodies. (Necessary goodies apparently include many pairs of pajamas and underpants but no socks or daytime clothing, Polly Pocket dolls, Maria the Lovey OF COURSE, a bottle or two of water, and snacks that almost always include an apple and some cookies or crackers. Oh, and blankets and pillows. Lots of blankets and pillows). My biggest complaint about Anna with Lily is that she almost smothers her little sister with kisses and hugs. Very very sweet.

Adam is here then gone then here then gone then here then gone (work trips). Story of our life, these last few years. It is what it is, and I’m learning to deal with it. I miss him when he’s gone. I am pretty sure he misses us, too. It feels like a luxury to have him around and we all compete for his attention when he is home.

We’re hanging in there.

I’m doing well enough that we are eating and sleeping and we have clean clothes and a (mostly) tidy home. There is a minimal amount of crying by anyone. We’re doing ok, I think.

Mostly I just love my girls. I can’t believe it when I fold Anna’s clothes and I hold up her looooong and skinny leggings. When did my girl get SO big? I sigh over the sweetness of holding a baby. It is so good. And when I have those moments, where I am snuggled in with both of them, Adam at my side? BLISS. Absolute bliss.

Jun 12


The last couple of months have been filled with home projects here at Chez Gray: first the BIG ceiling scrape to get rid of our asbestos-ridden popcorn ceilings (which meant moving EVERYTHING) out of the house, then plastering the ceilings to retexture them, then ripping out all the old carpet and laying new flooring, then having the entire interior of the house repainted. Since moving back in (we were out of the house for 2-3 weeks while the above jobs were done), we’ve been (slowly) moving everything back into the house from the garage, hanging artwork back up on the walls, arranging furniture, and (Adam’s LIFE the last couple of weekends) replacing every single electrical outlet in the house (putting in tamper-resistent outlets and changing out the outlet plates and switches to update them from dingy old cream to bright! new! white!). I would feel like a slave driver if Adam weren’t so intent (self-motivated) to finish all of this out. He worked for hours yesterday, puzzling over the bizarre wiring that the previous owners messed up (umm, why in the world would you put a light switch in the master bedroom that controlled the outlets in the living room?????), and crawling behind sofas to access outlets.

Me? I keep arranging and rearranging Anna’s room and the nursery. I’m itching to finish it all off, but, at the same time, I’m content in the knowledge that it will all work out–that it doesn’t have to be perfect before Baby arrives. Baby won’t care!

Though you can’t tell much from the outside, the interior of our house has received a much-needed facelift with these improvements we’ve made and have been making–it already feels like a world of difference from the dated 1970’s feeling that it had before. Amazing what new ceilings and new floors and new paint on the walls can do for a place! I’m loving it and I’m starting to see in my mind what it will be when we can finally get through ALL the home projects we have in mind (that will take several years but, hey, I’m patient).

We’ve kept a tuft of avocado and teal speckled shag carpeting to remind us of where we came from. I’d say we’ve already come a long way from the first time we walked through this place (when I hissed in Adam’s ear so that the listing agent wouldn’t hear me and be offended, “I swear to you, I will NEVER, EVER live in this house!”). Hey, guess what? I take it back. This place is turning out all right after all.

Jun 12

32 weeks

I was in line at Costco last week when a young man asked me “So! How long have you been pregnant?” I was so taken aback by the way in which he asked the question (most people ask when’s the due date?) that I stammered out something before he turned and left.

Today I am 32 weeks pregnant, or, alternatively, I am 8 weeks away from my due date. I am due next month! (Commence minor freakout. Sort of).

This is what it is like for me to be 32 weeks pregnant:

I get asked daily, at every single public interaction, the same three questions: (1) When are you due?, (2) Do you know what you’re having (my favorite answer being the smart-ass answer of “A BABY!!!!” said with a beatific smile on my face, as if I have no idea that they are actually asking about the sex of my baby), and (3) Are you excited?

(Alternatively, if Anna is with me, #3 is addressed to Anna and modified to “Are you excited to be a big sister?” Yesterday, our next-door-neighbor–a perfectly delightful woman, by the way–asked Anna this questions and Anna stubbornly responded with a flat, “no.” She was, ahem, kind of in a “mood,” so I tried to laugh it off but the neighbor seemed a big unnerved by her answer).

Me? Yes, of course I’m excited. I went to go see the What to Expect When You’re Expecting movie this afternoon and, despite my foreknowledge of the lackluster reviews of the movie, I really liked it. Mostly because I am a pregnant woman so any chance for a sappy cryfest at the end of a movie that shows women welcoming their newborn babies into the world is totally cool with me. And I sat there, with a stupid grin on my face, while tears rolled down my cheeks, hand on my belly feeling baby kicks and rolls, thinking about meeting this baby of mine. Reminiscing about the day that I met Anna. There is something otherworldly, something magical, something so infinitely awesome about the miracle of babies being created out of what seems like almost nothing–a few cells from me, a few cells from him, and WHAMMO! Baby! The idea that I have this person inside of me, a person with a personality, just absolutely blows me away. I love that. I love the anticipation.

We’ve been doing some home remodeling and, as these things tend to happen, it has been more involved, more expensive, and has taken more time than we had originally planned, but I figure that all is still well because, chances are, the timing on this is a little better than the timing when we did our home remodel when I was pregnant with Anna (we literally moved back into our house the very same day that I went into labor with her–in fact, I spent the day on my hands and knees cleaning and moving furniture around and the minute I sat down on the couch with a slice of pizza in my hands and an old episode of Seinfeld all cued up was the same exact minute that I experienced my first contractions). This time…..I think we’ve got time. The painters should be finished by the end of the day tomorrow or perhaps early next week. Plenty of time, right? Tell that to my nesting instinct. It’s driving me slightly crazy to not be arranging the nursery yet but (deep breath) there’ll be time for that.

As always when we do home projects, I get to pat myself on the back not for the stellar job that I am doing in managing and coordinating all the various projects and workers, etc, but for choosing a partner who is really, really amazing at doing so. Adam continues to go above and beyond. And though he won’t admit it, he is totally nesting, too. He’s the one that couldn’t stand the idea of the baby having nasty old shag carpeting in his or her room so he ripped out that old carpeting (along with the rest of the bedroom carpeting) and laid in new flooring. See? He’s a pretty great guy. I think I’ll keep him.

I can’t decide if we are inching along towards the due date or speeding along, but, either way, it isn’t too much time until we get to meet this new little person. Today I held a newborn sized onesie in my hands and marveled at how tiny it was, and then I remembered how even some of the newborn stuff was big on Anna (she wore preemie size for a little while) and….wow. So tiny! So cute!

Apr 12


I have a case of the Mondays, exacerbated by the post-vacation blues. This weekend I had a fun little get-away to Ojai with some girl friends of mine (an annual thing) and we went to the super fantastic spa there all day and went out to a fancy dinner and talked and laughed and had a general blast and now I am having a hard time re-entering into life. I was happy to get back home and the house wasn’t a total and complete disaster (just a little messy) and Anna wasn’t a total and complete disaster (just a bit over-tired and over-sugared from Daddy’s “No Rules When Mommy is Away!” rule), but….there is still something a little hard about re-entering regular life.

The weather doesn’t help. Overcast and rainy. Makes me want to curl up in a ball under a blanket.

When I got home from dropping Anna off at school and doing the grocery shopping, I looked around the kitchen and thought, “I totally don’t want to do this today.” (Monday is my kitchen cleaning day). And then I realized that I probably wouldn’t feel like it tomorrow, either. And tomorrow, if I didn’t clean the kitchen today, I would have the kitchen and the living room to clean. So I did what I rarely do. I let myself do a half-assed job. I am justifying this by declaring that it is better to have a sort of cleaned kitchen than a not at all cleaned kitchen. Better to wipe counters, sweep and mop (and that is IT!) than to do nothing at all. I looked around afterwards and thought, “huh. Yep. Better than nothing!” (My usual cleaning routing also involves washing windows and sliding door, cleaning out fridge, wiping down cabinets and appliances, and cleaning the stove, oven, microwave and toaster oven.

As I see it, it’s a baby steps kind of a thing. Maybe later today I will feel like conquering the other things. If not, at least I’ve done something and tomorrow when I wake up, I won’t have to wake up feeling completely overwhelmed from the get-go. So! It’s a start, right? Better something than nothing?

Jan 12

House of Waffles pool: soon to be open for business!!!!

Today I am feeling extremely happy with our (financially painful–ouch! so expensive!) decision to install solar heating for our pool as we’ve gone from a frigid 55 degrees to 70 degrees in just a couple of weeks. (Assuming our warm weather holds a bit), once we slap a cover on that bad boy we are going to be IN BUSINESS around here! Well, not literally in business. We’ll be floating blissfully in our 85-degree pool, though! Aaaaahhhh…..Makes that check we had to write to the solar guys feel a little less terrible. I am so stoked to have our own pool again. It’s going to be a great spring and summer!

Oct 11

Emerging from my hibernation

Yes, Hi!, I am here, after all. It’s been a while. Missed me much?

Basically, it has gone like this: moving insanity + head cold/sinus congestion = whoa.

And now I am just now beginning to re-emerge into the real world. And I am here to tell you that things are AWeSOME here. Yes, Adam’s work schedule still sucks. Yes, this house has weird tile and carpeting and ugly aluminum windows and MILES AND MILES of white linoleum (which shows EVERYTHING thankyouverymuch) but there are so many closets! And a dishwasher! And we have a swimming pool! And TWO (2) toilets! It’s all so exciting I can hardly stand it. Friday the very last of our storage unit comes to our new house and I am thrilled that we will finally fit all our junk stuff in our very own house. Now if I can only convince Adam that we don’t need quite so much junk stuff in the garage, life would be perfect. As it is, it is very nearly so (see Dishwasher, above, which has seriously revolutionized my life, as has having a laundry room right off of the kitchen). I love this place. We’ll be here a while.

Sep 11


I have decided that rather than facing this move as a stressful near-impossibility (seriously, I was having terrible insomnia and anxiety), I wanted to restructure it for myself. So I am thinking of it as a…challenge. Yeah, that’s it. Or maybe like a war. And I am going to win this thing. Totally win it. In it to win it.

Adam’s work takes him away from home quite a bit, and these next couple of weeks are no exception. He is only home for three of the next 9 days until we move. Which means that, for a lot of stuff around the home front, it is all me.

I am a packing queen. I am juggling many balls this week and next. I spent one day (Monday) trying to parent Anna in the usual manner, but by Tuesday I had given up and allowed near constant movies all afternoon because otherwise there is no way that I can get through all the paperwork and phone calls and packing that needs to be done.

I was letting myself get too overwrought about this, I can see that now. I wasn’t sleeping. I wasn’t taking care of myself. I’ve been going to yoga this week (a necessary indulgence, I’ve decided) and that has led to better sleep (much better sleep!) and better all around attitude. I am totally going to rock this move.

Next Friday! Whoa.

Sep 11

Moving on

I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t more than just a little sad to leave this house behind. We’ve lived here 9 years. Do you know how much can (and did) happen in nine years? When we moved in, I had nary a grey hair or wrinkle. I hadn’t ever been pregnant or given birth or had a miscarriage or cancer. I’ve been staring back at a picture of Adam and I (must scan this in when I have access to our printer/scanner again) on the day that we moved in to 1818 Pampas Avenue. Me, all kicky in my rolled up overalls and tennis shoes. Adam carrying an extra 30+ pounds (sorry, hon, but it’s true and what a difference to see you these days without that extra poundage). Both of us looking for a fresh start, fresh off of our adventure in LA County while I was going to grad school. It isn’t an accident that we refer to those three years as “the hell years.” Don’t get me wrong, there were awesome things about that time. I felt intellectually stimulated. I felt smart and adventurous and I got an advanced degree and a publication, which were real dreams of mine. We owned a house and we got a dog and we had a swimming pool and friends and we went to church and there were lots of happy memories because, yes, we were young and carefree. Except when we weren’t. We were also totally, completely disconnected because Adam was commuting too many hours to count each day, and would return home grumpy and starving and I was so wrapped up in reading textbooks and research articles and preparing brilliant things to say in class, not to mention my yoga obsession. We just….weren’t working out very well. It wasn’t that we were fighting. We were just going through the motions of being married.

The day I got my Master’s Degree was the day Adam called up our real estate agent to put our house on the market. He couldn’t wait to get out of there. I don’t blame him. He didn’t have what I had down there–a reason to be there, other than supporting his wife. I am thankful that I had that opportunity, but it wasn’t a great time for us in our relationship.

Moving back to Santa Barbara was a fresh start. We bought our little house on Pampas, a white house with blue shutters, and the day we took possession of the house, I was excited but I have to admit that I also cried. The paint was peeling and the previous owners hadn’t even bothered to clean before they left. We had windows in all sorts of bad shape–sticky old aluminum windows, a heavy wooden slider that stuck sometimes, and the ancient (ok, 1920’s-era) double hung windows–some painted shut, others painted open. The whole house, inside, was painted an ugly pinkish putty flesh tone. There were garish flamingo (FLAMINGOS! You’ve got to be kidding me!) tiles in the bathroom, along with the pink counter and the pink walls.

In nine years we remodeled the bathroom top to bottom, we painted the entire house inside and out, we replaced every window and every door, we put in sprinklers and landscaping and we trimmed trees and we hung nice curtains (to replace the–not kidding you–cut up sheets that the previous owners had hung as curtain substitutes). We made this house, this promise of a house, into a home. Our home. And it delivered.

We held parties that shouldn’t have been able to fit inside (dinner party for 12, anyone?) by putting the couch into the (teensy tiny) dining room and the dining room table (and card tables to extend it) into the (pretty damn small) living room. We made our friends and family members suffer through sleeping on the couch (sorry) or on an air mattress on the floor (also sorry)–no guest room here. I lost babies here and wailed and screamed against god and the world and then I wandered the halls and swayed with deep breaths through my 46 hours of labor with Anna, a blessing beyond all measure, squatting by the foot of our bed. We made love and we made out. We yelled at each other, we cried, we laughed, we drank wine and we made pasta and we baked cakes in our impossibly tiny and ill-suited-to-our-lifestyle kitchen. We washed thousands of dishes by hand (no dishwasher). We shrugged when the microwave died on us and decided that it simply cleared up some counterspace. We rocked our baby and sung to her and slept with her cozy between us in our big bed. Adam sat with me as I dry heaved over the toilet, sick from chemo and even then our home was my respite. I would clench my entire body the entire drive home from the cancer center, waiting the sweet relief of my very own bed, my soothing and calm green oasis of a bedroom, my view of our vegetable garden.

Yes, I’m more than a little sad to leave.

It’s one of those things where it is the logical thing to do, to move on. It’s the best decision for us, for our family. Of course I cannot wait to have a big dining room and a swimming pool and my very own closet (!) for my clothes. A dishwasher. A pantry. A (this is huge) SECOND BATHROOM. It’s great and it’s a little bit scary and it is thrilling in that way that roller coasters are as you are waiting in line–you can’t wait and yet you also feel like you might wet your pants with anticipation. It won’t be as bad as I fear, just like that roller coaster. Chances are, we won’t fall out. Chances are, it’s gonna be a pretty sweet ride. From the ground, I can close my eyes and hear the whisper of the happiness that is to come, the memories calling to me like so many voices.

We’re packing up. We’re moving on.

Aug 11

Moving, I think….

The good news is that we are possibly/probably/hopefully really going to do this, this moving thing. We made an offer (okay, a huge long series of offers that eventually got down into a range we were comfortable with) on a house that got accepted by the seller, and we got a (decent) offer on our house that we accepted. And now we are in all sorts of escrow. And the weird thing about this period of time is that thing where you have to like and be committed enough to the new place and feel sure and secure enough about the buyers really sticking around and really and truly buying your house to feel like YES, THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING but sometimes these things do fall through and so we talk in long phrases of “if we move.” As in: “we’re going to need more lamps for those bedrooms that don’t have overhead lighting….if we move” and “I definitely want to get started on planting lots of fruit trees in our maybe-backyard…if we move.” It’s weird.

So. We are moving (hopefully, we think?). At some point. In the near future. And we don’t 100% know about the timing. It might be terrible. It might be great. We might need to store all our stuff and rent a motorhome and travel around for a month (Adam’s idea. Ummmm. NO) or couch surf (just kidding, friends and family!) or rent an apartment (hmm, maybe). Or whatever. We are maybe sort of moving (hopefully) from a tiny but lovingly updated and beautiful, classic home in downtown Santa Barbara to a stuck-in-the-past time warp not-so-lovely-but-so-full-of-possibilities!-home in Goleta. Location, location, location. And we have dreams. And the new (probably, hopefully) place has a pool! (And a backyard full of gravel that needs removing, but that is beside the point).

I’m excited, and I’m making lists and I’m ready to take it on. Just waiting on time to keep on ticking and ticking and ticking to know for sure what it will all look like. In the meantime? Lists and lists and lists.